Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Iron Story

We here in the Pacific Northwest have enjoyed some eerily (what does it MEAN?) and unseasonably warm and wonderful weather the last few weeks. So, the boots have been kicked temporarily into the closet and the long neglected winter feet have been un-socked. Flip-flops on and toes freshly (though hastily) painted, I took a second to relish the magnificence of sandal weather in March and caught a glimpse of an old faded scar on the top of my foot. We get used to the stuff we have had for a long time, the scars and the accompanying stories fade, and we forget. Our eyes scan over them, unseeing.
For some reason, probably the winter whiteness of my foot, that old scar stood out. And I remembered how I got it. I don't know if my mom (you may know her as Mama P, and I hope you know her, because she is the best) even knows this story. It's time she did.
We had moved to Washington State from Northern California a few months earlier, having narrowly missed the big San Francisco earthquake by a few weeks. It was 1989.  My mom, little brother, and I moved in with my mom's mom while my dad's work called for him to travel back and forth to California. We were in limbo, waiting to move to a house, and in an unfamiliar and chaotic place. I had a little 5 year old brother and I was an eighth grader going through those eighth grade things in an all new junior high, feeling disconnected and depressed. We were not close with my mom's side of the family and I longed for my old life, my old house, my old town, and the neighborhood full of friends we had left behind. 
With every crazy thing I thought I was going through, I can't even imagine what my mom was dealing with. All of us pulling at her, needing her for something, wanting her all to ourselves...she was our only piece of home.
On a weekend in December, she asked me (ME!) to go Christmas shopping with her. To the BIG mall. And to DINNER. The next Friday. Just the two of us! That week went by so very slowly. I never could have told you then, could never have named the feeling...but I craved time with my mom. 
The Friday finally arrived and I, an eighth grade fashion plate, set to iron my outfit for the big day. We were leaving right after school and I could not wait. The old iron sizzled, and I pulled my most awesome rayon blouse onto the ironing board. As I did, the iron fell. Right on top of my bare foot.
I pulled it off. Key word: pulled. Everything was already bubbly and burned on the top of that foot, and the only thing I could think of was to put some damn socks on and not tell a soul, otherwise there would be no mall, no dinner, no Mom all to myself that night.
I went to school, and then we went to the mall, and had dinner. My foot hurt so bad, but I did not care. I carefully tried to walk without limping because I got to sit across a table from my mom, my home. Just us. That night when I somehow pulled the sock off my burned foot, I totally cried alone, only sad that the night had ended. 
Eventually, we moved into a home. And I grew up and away from my mom the way teenagers do. When I think back on the way I was to her then...she could (and should) have set me aflame and left me for the wolves. No one would have ever blamed her, but she did not.
And now...I don't think about how lucky I am to see my sweet mom almost every day. Sometimes, I am sure that she would like to push me into traffic because, well, sometimes I can really be a challenge to work with. No one would ever blame her, but she does not. It feels, somehow, like the old scar on my foot, that the love, acceptance, and every thing my mom does is being scanned over. Taken for granted, because I can't remember a time it was not there. Since it has been there forever.
We have spent so much time working, working, working...that I know I have taken her for granted. Seeing that scar was a wake-up call of sorts. Because only just recently have we even been able to spend a few precious hours outside of the shop the way we used to. Time for that to change.
I just want you to know, Mom, that I remember, and I know it, and if we both live to be 200 years old that I could never repay you in gratitude for who you are to me. But I will try. There's nothing I would not do for you. I see you. And I love you. You are my home and I still crave time with you. And I am so lucky to call you MY MOM. The luckiest. Thank you for teaching me how to spray water on wrinkly clothes and put them in the dryer. Because IRONS? I mean, who IRONS? 

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